Application for an Incidental Take Permit; Habitat Conservation Plan and Draft Environmental Assessment for Wildhorse Mountain Wind Project, Pushmataha County, Oklahoma, 48243-48244 [2021-18450]

Download as PDF Federal Register / Vol. 86, No. 164 / Friday, August 27, 2021 / Notices implementation of the covered activities described in the draft HCP. We will make the final permit decision no sooner than 30 days after publication of this notice in the Federal Register. Authority We publish this notice in compliance with section 10(c) of the Endangered Species Act (16 U.S.C. 1531–1544 et seq.) and its implementing regulations at 40 CFR 17.22 and 17.32; and in furtherance of objectives under the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969, as amended (42 U.S.C. 4321–4347 et seq.), and its implementing regulations at 40 CFR 1500–1508. Kim S. Turner, Acting Field Supervisor, Sacramento Fish and Wildlife Office, Sacramento, California. [FR Doc. 2021–18449 Filed 8–26–21; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4310–55–P DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR Fish and Wildlife Service [FWS–R2–ES–2020–N156; FXES11140200000–212–FF02ENEH00] Application for an Incidental Take Permit; Habitat Conservation Plan and Draft Environmental Assessment for Wildhorse Mountain Wind Project, Pushmataha County, Oklahoma Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior. ACTION: Notice of availability; request for comments. AGENCY: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), announce the availability of a draft environmental assessment (dEA) under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), and application for an incidental take permit (ITP) supported by a habitat conservation plan (HCP) for the operation of an existing wind facility, the Wildhorse Mountain Wind project (project), in Pushmataha County, Oklahoma. Wildhorse Wind Energy, LLC (Applicant) has applied for an ITP under the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended. The requested ITP, which would be in effect for a period of 30 years, if granted, would cover incidental take of the federally endangered Indiana bat and threatened northern long-eared bat. The potential incidental take would be associated with activities associated with the operation of the existing wind project. We invite public comments on the permit application, proposed HCP, and dEA. DATES: Submission of Comments: We will accept comments received or lotter on DSK11XQN23PROD with NOTICES1 SUMMARY: VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:52 Aug 26, 2021 Jkt 253001 postmarked on or before September 27, 2021. ADDRESSES: Obtaining documents: The documents this notice announces are available for public inspection by any of the following means. Internet: You may obtain electronic copies of the dEA and HCP on the Oklahoma Field Office website at https:// www.fws.gov/southwest/es/oklahoma/. U.S. Mail: You may obtain the documents at the following addresses. In your request for documents, please note that your request is in reference to the Wildhorse Mountain Wind Project HCP and dEA. • EA and HCP: A limited number of CD–ROM and printed copies of the EA and HCP are available, by request, from Ken Collins, Acting Field Supervisor, Oklahoma Ecological Services Field Office, Tulsa OK, telephone 918–581– 7458. • The ITP application is available by mail from the Regional Director, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, P.O. Box 1306, Room 6034, Albuquerque, NM 87103. Submitting Comments You may submit written comments by one of the following methods: • Email: okes_nepa@fws.gov; or • Facsimile: 918–581–7467, Attn: OKES Wildhorse Mountain Wind Project HCP EA. • U.S. mail: Field Supervisor, Oklahoma Ecological Services Field Office, 9014 East 21st Street, Tulsa, Oklahoma 74129–1428. Please specify that your information request or comments concern the Wildhorse Mountain Wind Project EA/ HCP. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Ken Collins, by U.S. mail at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Oklahoma Ecological Services Field Office (at the Tulsa street address above), or by phone at 918–581–7458. If you use a telecommunications device for the deaf (TDD), please call the Federal Information Relay Service at 800–877– 8339. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The Applicant has applied to the Service for an ITP under section 10(a)(1)(B) of the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended (ESA; 16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.). The requested ITP, which would be in effect for a period of 30 years, if granted, would authorize incidental take of the federally endangered Indiana bat (Myotis sodalis) and threatened northern long-eared bat (Myotis septentrionalis) during the operation of an existing wind facility in Pushmataha County, Oklahoma. PO 00000 Frm 00130 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 48243 In total, the plan area is 13,731.6 acres, including the 13,641.6-acre wind facility and an off-site mitigation area (90 acres of contiguous forested habitat in Pushmataha County). The facility, constructed in 2019, consists of 29 wind turbines, with a total generating capacity of 100 megawatts. Activities potentially causing take include the operation of the existing 29 wind turbines. The Applicant has proposed a HCP that would be implemented to address project impacts to the Indiana bat and northern longeared bat. We are notifying the public of the Applicant’s proposal of an HCP and request to the Service for an ITP to cover incidental take of the Indiana bat and northern long-eared bat associated with the operation of the Wildhorse Mountain Wind facility. In addition, we are notifying the public of the Service’s preparation of a dEA regarding impacts of the requested action or feasible alternatives, of an opportunity for public comment on our action, and of our intention to finalize the environmental assessment after consideration of public comment. Background Section 9 of the ESA prohibits ‘‘take’’ of fish and wildlife species listed as endangered or threatened (16 U.S.C. 1531–1544). Under section 3 of the ESA, the term ‘‘take’’ means to harass, harm, pursue, hunt, shoot, wound, kill, trap, capture, or collect, or to attempt to engage in any such conduct (16 U.S.C. 1532(19)). The term ‘‘harm’’ is further defined by regulation as an act which actually kills or injures wildlife. Such acts may include significant habitat modification or degradation where it actually kills or injures wildlife by significantly impairing essential behavioral patterns, including breeding, feeding, or sheltering (50 CFR 17.3). Under section 10(a)(1)(B) of the ESA, the Secretary of the Interior may authorize the taking of federally listed species if such taking occurs incidental to otherwise legal activities and where a conservation plan has been developed under ESA section 10(a)(2)(A) that describes (1) the impact that will likely result from such taking; (2) the steps an Applicant will take to minimize and mitigate that take to the maximum extent practicable, and the funding that will be available to implement such steps; (3) the alternative actions to such taking that an Applicant considered and the reasons why such alternatives are not being utilized; and (4) other measures that the Service may require as being necessary or appropriate for the purposes of the plan. Issuance criteria E:\FR\FM\27AUN1.SGM 27AUN1 48244 Federal Register / Vol. 86, No. 164 / Friday, August 27, 2021 / Notices under section 10(a)(2)(B) for an incidental take permit requires the Service to find that (1) the taking will be incidental to otherwise lawful activities; (2) an Applicant will, to the maximum extent practicable, minimize and mitigate the impacts of such taking; (3) an Applicant has ensured that adequate funding for the plan will be provided; (4) the taking will not appreciably reduce the likelihood of the survival and recovery of the species in the wild; and (5) the measures, if any, we require as necessary or appropriate for the purposes of the plan will be met. Regulations governing permits for endangered and threatened species are at 50 CFR 17.22 and 17.32, respectively. lotter on DSK11XQN23PROD with NOTICES1 Proposed Action The proposed action is the issuance of a 30-year ITP to authorize incidental take of up to 8 Indiana bats and 48 northern long-eared bats during the ITP term, resulting from activities covered by the HCP and associated with the operation of the existing Wildhorse Mountain Wind Project in Pushmataha County, Oklahoma. The plan area is 13,731.6 acres, of which 90 acres are protected mitigation lands to offset the impacts of the project. The proposed HCP, which must meet the requirements in section 10(a)(2)(A) of the ESA, was developed in coordination with the Service and would be implemented by the Applicant. The proposed action will allow for the Applicant to comply with the ESA, and their renewable windgenerated energy would be made available to public utilities. Covered activities in the HCP include the operation of 29 wind turbines and the conservation and preservation of 90 acres, called the mitigation area. The Applicant proposes to minimize and mitigate impacts to the Indiana bat and northern long-eared bat through conservation measures identified in the HCP. Alternatives We considered one alternative to the proposed action as part of the environmental assessment process: The no-action alternative. The no-action alternative represents estimated future conditions without the issuance of an ITP. The no-action alternative represents the status quo. Under the no-action alternative, the Service would not issue the ITP. The no-action alternative would be implemented if the Service denies issuance of a permit or if the Applicant chooses to abandon pursuing an ITP. The Applicant would operate the project without an ITP and would risk VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:52 Aug 26, 2021 Jkt 253001 not being in compliance with section 9 of the Endangered Species Act if implementation of covered activities results in take of the Indiana bat or the northern long-eared bat without the use of a 4(d) rule. Next Steps Public Availability of Comments Written comments we receive become part of the public record associated with this action. Requests for copies of comments will be handled in accordance with the Freedom of Information Act, NEPA, and Service and Department of the Interior policies and procedures. Before including your address, phone number, email address, or other personal identifying information in your comment, you should be aware that the entire comment—including your personal identifying information—may be made publicly available at any time. While you can ask us in your comment to withhold your personal identifying information from public review, we cannot guarantee that we will be able to do so. All submissions from organizations or businesses, and from individuals identifying themselves as representatives or officials of organizations or businesses, will be made available for public disclosure in their entirety. Authority We provide this notice under the authority of section 10(c) of the ESA and its implementing regulations (50 CFR 17.22 and 17.32) and NEPA (42 U.S.C. Frm 00131 Amy L. Lueders, Regional Director, Southwest Region, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. [FR Doc. 2021–18450 Filed 8–26–21; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4333–15–P We will evaluate the permit application, associated documents, and comments we receive to determine whether the permit application meets the requirements of the ESA, NEPA, and implementing regulations. If we determine all requirements are met, we will approve the HCP and issue the ITP under section 10(a)(1)(B) of the ESA to the Applicant, Wildhorse Mountain Wind Energy, LLC, for take of Indiana bat and northern long-eared bat in accordance with the terms of the HCP and specific terms and conditions of the authorizing permit. We will not make our final decision until after the end of the 30-day public comment period, and we will fully consider all comments we receive during the public comment period. PO 00000 4371 et seq.) and its implementing regulations (40 CFR 1506.6). Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR National Park Service [NPS–WASO–NRSS–NPS0031626; PPWONRADE3, PPMRSNR1Y.NM0000 (211); OMB Control Number 1024–NEW] Agency Information Collection Activities; Socioeconomic Monitoring Study of National Park Service Visitors National Park Service, Interior. Notice of Information Collection; request for comment. AGENCY: ACTION: In accordance with the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 we, the National Park Service (NPS), are proposing a new information collection. DATES: Interested persons are invited to submit comments on or before October 26, 2021. ADDRESSES: Send your comments on this information collection request (ICR) by mail to Phadrea Ponds, NPS Information Collection Clearance Officer, 1201 Oakridge Drive, Fort Collins, CO 80525; or by email to phadrea_ponds@nps.gov. Please reference Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Control Number 1024– NEW (SEM) in the subject line of your comments. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: To request additional information about this ICR, contact Bret Meldrum by email at bret_meldrum@nps.gov, or by telephone at 970–267–7295. Individuals who are hearing or speech impaired may call the Federal Relay Service at 1– 800–877–8339 for TTY assistance. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: In accordance with the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 (PRA) and 5 CFR 1320.8(d)(1), all information collections require approval under the PRA. We may not conduct or sponsor and you are not required to respond to a collection of information unless it displays a currently valid OMB control number. As part of our continuing effort to reduce paperwork and respondent burdens, we invite the public and other Federal agencies to comment on new, proposed, revised, and continuing collections of information. This helps us assess the impact of our information collection requirements and minimize the public’s reporting burden. It also SUMMARY: E:\FR\FM\27AUN1.SGM 27AUN1

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 86, Number 164 (Friday, August 27, 2021)]
[Notices]
[Pages 48243-48244]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2021-18450]


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DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR

Fish and Wildlife Service

[FWS-R2-ES-2020-N156; FXES11140200000-212-FF02ENEH00]


Application for an Incidental Take Permit; Habitat Conservation 
Plan and Draft Environmental Assessment for Wildhorse Mountain Wind 
Project, Pushmataha County, Oklahoma

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Notice of availability; request for comments.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------

SUMMARY: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), announce the 
availability of a draft environmental assessment (dEA) under the 
National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), and application for an 
incidental take permit (ITP) supported by a habitat conservation plan 
(HCP) for the operation of an existing wind facility, the Wildhorse 
Mountain Wind project (project), in Pushmataha County, Oklahoma. 
Wildhorse Wind Energy, LLC (Applicant) has applied for an ITP under the 
Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended. The requested ITP, which 
would be in effect for a period of 30 years, if granted, would cover 
incidental take of the federally endangered Indiana bat and threatened 
northern long-eared bat. The potential incidental take would be 
associated with activities associated with the operation of the 
existing wind project. We invite public comments on the permit 
application, proposed HCP, and dEA.

DATES: Submission of Comments: We will accept comments received or 
postmarked on or before September 27, 2021.

ADDRESSES: 
    Obtaining documents: The documents this notice announces are 
available for public inspection by any of the following means.
    Internet: You may obtain electronic copies of the dEA and HCP on 
the Oklahoma Field Office website at https://www.fws.gov/southwest/es/oklahoma/.
    U.S. Mail: You may obtain the documents at the following addresses. 
In your request for documents, please note that your request is in 
reference to the Wildhorse Mountain Wind Project HCP and dEA.
     EA and HCP: A limited number of CD-ROM and printed copies 
of the EA and HCP are available, by request, from Ken Collins, Acting 
Field Supervisor, Oklahoma Ecological Services Field Office, Tulsa OK, 
telephone 918-581-7458.
     The ITP application is available by mail from the Regional 
Director, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, P.O. Box 1306, Room 6034, 
Albuquerque, NM 87103.

Submitting Comments

    You may submit written comments by one of the following methods:
     Email: [email protected]; or
     Facsimile: 918-581-7467, Attn: OKES Wildhorse Mountain 
Wind Project HCP EA.
     U.S. mail: Field Supervisor, Oklahoma Ecological Services 
Field Office, 9014 East 21st Street, Tulsa, Oklahoma 74129-1428.
    Please specify that your information request or comments concern 
the Wildhorse Mountain Wind Project EA/HCP.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Ken Collins, by U.S. mail at the U.S. 
Fish and Wildlife Service, Oklahoma Ecological Services Field Office 
(at the Tulsa street address above), or by phone at 918-581-7458. If 
you use a telecommunications device for the deaf (TDD), please call the 
Federal Information Relay Service at 800-877-8339.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The Applicant has applied to the Service for 
an ITP under section 10(a)(1)(B) of the Endangered Species Act of 1973, 
as amended (ESA; 16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.). The requested ITP, which 
would be in effect for a period of 30 years, if granted, would 
authorize incidental take of the federally endangered Indiana bat 
(Myotis sodalis) and threatened northern long-eared bat (Myotis 
septentrionalis) during the operation of an existing wind facility in 
Pushmataha County, Oklahoma.
    In total, the plan area is 13,731.6 acres, including the 13,641.6-
acre wind facility and an off-site mitigation area (90 acres of 
contiguous forested habitat in Pushmataha County). The facility, 
constructed in 2019, consists of 29 wind turbines, with a total 
generating capacity of 100 megawatts.
    Activities potentially causing take include the operation of the 
existing 29 wind turbines. The Applicant has proposed a HCP that would 
be implemented to address project impacts to the Indiana bat and 
northern long-eared bat.
    We are notifying the public of the Applicant's proposal of an HCP 
and request to the Service for an ITP to cover incidental take of the 
Indiana bat and northern long-eared bat associated with the operation 
of the Wildhorse Mountain Wind facility. In addition, we are notifying 
the public of the Service's preparation of a dEA regarding impacts of 
the requested action or feasible alternatives, of an opportunity for 
public comment on our action, and of our intention to finalize the 
environmental assessment after consideration of public comment.

Background

    Section 9 of the ESA prohibits ``take'' of fish and wildlife 
species listed as endangered or threatened (16 U.S.C. 1531-1544). Under 
section 3 of the ESA, the term ``take'' means to harass, harm, pursue, 
hunt, shoot, wound, kill, trap, capture, or collect, or to attempt to 
engage in any such conduct (16 U.S.C. 1532(19)). The term ``harm'' is 
further defined by regulation as an act which actually kills or injures 
wildlife. Such acts may include significant habitat modification or 
degradation where it actually kills or injures wildlife by 
significantly impairing essential behavioral patterns, including 
breeding, feeding, or sheltering (50 CFR 17.3).
    Under section 10(a)(1)(B) of the ESA, the Secretary of the Interior 
may authorize the taking of federally listed species if such taking 
occurs incidental to otherwise legal activities and where a 
conservation plan has been developed under ESA section 10(a)(2)(A) that 
describes (1) the impact that will likely result from such taking; (2) 
the steps an Applicant will take to minimize and mitigate that take to 
the maximum extent practicable, and the funding that will be available 
to implement such steps; (3) the alternative actions to such taking 
that an Applicant considered and the reasons why such alternatives are 
not being utilized; and (4) other measures that the Service may require 
as being necessary or appropriate for the purposes of the plan. 
Issuance criteria

[[Page 48244]]

under section 10(a)(2)(B) for an incidental take permit requires the 
Service to find that (1) the taking will be incidental to otherwise 
lawful activities; (2) an Applicant will, to the maximum extent 
practicable, minimize and mitigate the impacts of such taking; (3) an 
Applicant has ensured that adequate funding for the plan will be 
provided; (4) the taking will not appreciably reduce the likelihood of 
the survival and recovery of the species in the wild; and (5) the 
measures, if any, we require as necessary or appropriate for the 
purposes of the plan will be met. Regulations governing permits for 
endangered and threatened species are at 50 CFR 17.22 and 17.32, 
respectively.

Proposed Action

    The proposed action is the issuance of a 30-year ITP to authorize 
incidental take of up to 8 Indiana bats and 48 northern long-eared bats 
during the ITP term, resulting from activities covered by the HCP and 
associated with the operation of the existing Wildhorse Mountain Wind 
Project in Pushmataha County, Oklahoma. The plan area is 13,731.6 
acres, of which 90 acres are protected mitigation lands to offset the 
impacts of the project.
    The proposed HCP, which must meet the requirements in section 
10(a)(2)(A) of the ESA, was developed in coordination with the Service 
and would be implemented by the Applicant. The proposed action will 
allow for the Applicant to comply with the ESA, and their renewable 
wind-generated energy would be made available to public utilities. 
Covered activities in the HCP include the operation of 29 wind turbines 
and the conservation and preservation of 90 acres, called the 
mitigation area. The Applicant proposes to minimize and mitigate 
impacts to the Indiana bat and northern long-eared bat through 
conservation measures identified in the HCP.

Alternatives

    We considered one alternative to the proposed action as part of the 
environmental assessment process: The no-action alternative. The no-
action alternative represents estimated future conditions without the 
issuance of an ITP. The no-action alternative represents the status 
quo.
    Under the no-action alternative, the Service would not issue the 
ITP. The no-action alternative would be implemented if the Service 
denies issuance of a permit or if the Applicant chooses to abandon 
pursuing an ITP. The Applicant would operate the project without an ITP 
and would risk not being in compliance with section 9 of the Endangered 
Species Act if implementation of covered activities results in take of 
the Indiana bat or the northern long-eared bat without the use of a 
4(d) rule.

Next Steps

    We will evaluate the permit application, associated documents, and 
comments we receive to determine whether the permit application meets 
the requirements of the ESA, NEPA, and implementing regulations. If we 
determine all requirements are met, we will approve the HCP and issue 
the ITP under section 10(a)(1)(B) of the ESA to the Applicant, 
Wildhorse Mountain Wind Energy, LLC, for take of Indiana bat and 
northern long-eared bat in accordance with the terms of the HCP and 
specific terms and conditions of the authorizing permit. We will not 
make our final decision until after the end of the 30-day public 
comment period, and we will fully consider all comments we receive 
during the public comment period.

Public Availability of Comments

    Written comments we receive become part of the public record 
associated with this action. Requests for copies of comments will be 
handled in accordance with the Freedom of Information Act, NEPA, and 
Service and Department of the Interior policies and procedures. Before 
including your address, phone number, email address, or other personal 
identifying information in your comment, you should be aware that the 
entire comment--including your personal identifying information--may be 
made publicly available at any time. While you can ask us in your 
comment to withhold your personal identifying information from public 
review, we cannot guarantee that we will be able to do so. All 
submissions from organizations or businesses, and from individuals 
identifying themselves as representatives or officials of organizations 
or businesses, will be made available for public disclosure in their 
entirety.

Authority

    We provide this notice under the authority of section 10(c) of the 
ESA and its implementing regulations (50 CFR 17.22 and 17.32) and NEPA 
(42 U.S.C. 4371 et seq.) and its implementing regulations (40 CFR 
1506.6).

Amy L. Lueders,
Regional Director, Southwest Region, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
[FR Doc. 2021-18450 Filed 8-26-21; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 4333-15-P